National Park Service
U.S. Department of the Interior
NPS arrowhead logo

Natural Resource Quarterly | Winter 2020
Newsletter of Natural Resources in the National Capital Area
In This Issue:
  • Spotted Lanternfly in Perspective
  • GWMP Bug Lab & New Beetle Named for Jim Sherald
  • Eastern Grassland Workshops
  • Spotlight Shines in Online Format
  • Fisher Along C&O Canal
  • Nature News Round-Up: ICYMI
  • NRS Field Work in Your Park
  • Calendar
Spotted Lanternfly in Perspective
A moth-like spotted lanternfly sits on a gray tree branch with wings folded back. It has a mostly gray body with black legs and on the upper portion of its wing a faint pink with black spots.
Dorothy Borowy, Ecologist, Integrated Pest Management Coordinator

Spotted Lanternfly Takeaways
  • Spotted lanternfly (SLF) adults prefer tree-of-heaven, but can complete their life cycle by using more than 100 other species. 
  • SLF alone rarely kills its host, but it does cause stress to the plant, which can lead to secondary infections and pest problems.
  • Current efforts probably won’t keep SLF from reaching our area; however, things can still be done to limit its impact. 

The Buzz
News of spotted lanternfly (SLF, Lycorma delicatula) came to the National Capital Area from neighboring Pennsylvania where the pest was first discovered, and on the heels of devastation by the emerald ash borer (EAB, Agrilus planipennis). As SLF publicity and training circulated, the tone from affected areas and industries was urgent, making it easy to draw parallels between EAB and SLF. However, there are few similarities between these two invaders. [Read More]

[Photo: A spotted lanternfly with wings folded back. Credit: Bugwood
GWMP Bug Lab & New Beetle Named for Jim Sherald
A beetle, never before documented by science, was recently discovered in Turkey Run Park, a unit of Virginia’s George Washington Memorial Parkway (GWMP). The insect, Cantharis sheraldi is a type of soldier beetle, and it was named in honor of retired NPS National Capital Region Natural Resource Chief Jim Sherald.

But how can new species still be found these days, much less at a site inside the Washington, D.C. beltway? [Read More]

[Photos. Right: Cantharis sheraldi soldier beetle. Below: Volunteers examining insect specimens at the GWMP Bug Lab. Credits: NPS]
A long black soldier beetle on a white background
Three seated women peer through microscopes in a lab
Eastern Grassland Workshops
A line of grassland fire along the horizon behind a civil war canon
This fall, the National Capital Area (NCA) held a series of multi-part workshops on grassland restoration. Grasslands are a habitat of special interest to NCA parks because they support a diversity of species of birds, small mammals, insects, pollinators, and plants. In battlefield parks in particular, grasslands allow for the preservation of historic sightlines and viewsheds along with ecological richness.

The workshops provided broad overview sessions on International Principals & Standards for the Practice of Ecological Restoration and park sessions focused on restoration projects planned for Harpers Ferry National Historical Park, Monocacy National Battlefield, and Rock Creek Park.

The workshop, initiated by the Grassland Workgroup from the regional Natural Resource Advisory Team (NAT) were organized with the NPS Biological Resource Division and the Society for Ecological Restoration (SER).

Sessions thus far have helped guide parks in:
  • creating a decision guide for appropriate steps to restore agricultural landscapes or degraded meadows to eastern native grassland ecosystems
  • developing reference models and restoration goals
  • recognizing challenges of individual restoration sites
  • applying ecological restoration principles

In the coming weeks and months, additional activities will follow up on:
  • refining the restoration decision guide
  • possible check-in sessions in spring including an in-person field session in 2021
  • potential for one-on-one sessions with SER instructors

To learn more about the NCA grassland workshops, contact Patrick Campbell by NPS email.

[Photo: A prescribed fire on the grassland at Brawner Farm in Manassas National Battlefield Park in 2018. Credit: NPS/Gorsira]
Spotlight Shines in Online Format!
This year of pandemic has created new challenges and opportunities for many of our traditions and events, including the Spotlight on National Park Resources in the National Capital. The biennial showcase for science and scholarship in NCA parks, began in 2002. And this year it took place in a new online format over two October mornings. Despite the new approach and a new software system, the steering committee was able to support presentations from 15 speakers! Almost 200 attendees registered for the event, representing all the National Capital Area park units and including 56 park partners.

In a feedback survey, one attendee wrote, “…Thank you for all your work, Steering Committee. This is a strange world we're living in right now and you have totally pulled this event off successfully in it!“

Thanks to the Spotlight committee members: Rebecca Loncosky, Lisa Lichliter, Kristen Shelton, Karen Orrence, Diane Pavek, Anne Marie McKinney, Ann Gallagher, and Allison Young.

Many of the projects featured at the Spotlight are facilitated by the Chesapeake Watershed Cooperative Ecosystem Studies Unit (CW CESU). The CW CESU promotes stewardship and integrated ecosystem management of natural and cultural resources in the Chesapeake Watershed through collaborative research, technical assistance, and education. To do research with CW CESU, please contact Danny Filer by NPS email.
Fisher Along C&O Canal
A fisher (Martes pennanti) was recently photographed on a game camera along the C&O Canal in western Maryland. (Click image for video.) Fishers, also known as fisher cats, are a member of the weasel family made locally extinct in the mid-Atlantic region in the 1850s by logging and trapping.
In 1969, West Virginia state officials released 22 New Hampshire-caught fishers. The fishers quickly established a breeding population and started slowly expanding their range eastward. They are now found in all the counties of the Maryland panhandle including Garrett, Allegany, Washington, and Frederick Counties.

[Photo Credit: NPS/Tom Serfass]
Nature News Round Up: ICYMI
In Case You Missed It (ICYMI), here's a round-up of nature news and resources from the last quarter that may be of interest to those working with natural resources in the National Capital Area. This includes articles from InsideNPS and the NCA Informer (NPS-only access), NPS press releases, and new NPS web and social media content.

October is for Bats (InsideNPS: 10/1/2020)

Geospatial Insights Newsletter (InsideNPS: 9/4/2020)
NRS Field Work in Your Park
A man stands next to Henson Creek with tablet computer in hand.
During winter (December - February), programs from the office of Natural Resources and Science (NRS) are preparing for 2021 monitoring and are still in parks doing the following field work:

Invasive Plant Management Team (IPMT) is preparing for the 2021 field season and can assist parks with winter Weed Warrior projects. IPMT field operations resume in late February with treatment of lesser celandine at Rock Creek Park. For more information about assistance with Weed Warrior Training and early spring treatments, please contact Alex Voznitza by NPS email.

I&M Forest Vegetation Monitoring. I&M staff will visit monitoring plots to prep them for the upcoming field season (e.g., painting trees, fixing broken tags, etc.)

I&M Marsh Elevation (SET) Monitoring. I&M staff will scout and confirm viability of new SET monitoring sites.

I&M Water Monitoring occurs throughout the year on a bi-monthly basis at all I&M parks except C&O Canal.

[Photo: Water monitoring at Henson Creek. Credit: NPS]

21. Natural Resource Advisory Team (NAT) Meeting. Microsoft Teams. 8am - 12 pm. Contact Kristen Shelton by NPS email.
Submit your ideas for the next Natural Resource Quarterly newsletter.

The Natural Resource Quarterly provides updates on the status of natural resources and science in the parks of Region 1 - National Capital Area.